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Adoption bars Ohio grandparents from contact with grandsons

Grandparents sometimes worry decisions by their adult children, sons- or daughters-in-law or courts will excluded them from grandchildren's lives. According to the Ohio State Bar Association, a grandparent can seek visitation rights whether a grandchild's parents are separated, divorced or unmarried. Visitation petitions also may be filed if one of the child's parents dies.

A Barberton, Ohio, couple had hoped to hear good news, after being certified by child services as fit custodians for their 6- and 7-year-old grandsons. The boys had been in foster care since 2009, when the children were removed from their mother's out-of-state home over charges of neglect. The boys' father, the son of the Ohio couple, was serving time in prison for a child-related sex crime.

The paternal grandparents sought custody immediately after the boys were placed in foster care but were denied by a court. Foster parents, who cared for the children until 2011, filed a petition to adopt about the same time a court decided to send the boys back to their father, by then released from prison.

The family reunion, including the resumption of the boys' relationship with their grandparents, was short-lived. A two-county dispute over the case ended with a state high court decision favoring the county handling the foster parent adoption. The grandparents recently were informed their custody case was closed – they were barred from having any further contact with their grandsons.

In certain circumstances, grandparents are awarded child custody or are permitted to adopt a grandchild. However, grandparents' rights are not equal to parental rights. When a grandchild is given up for adoption by parents or by court order, grandparents may lose all options to remain in touch.

Just the way no two families are alike, neither are any two family law cases. Columbus grandparents with visitation, custody or adoption concerns can learn about their rights and seek legal guidance from an attorney.

Source: The Clarion-Ledger, "Miss. judge bars couple from grandsons" Jimmie E. Gates, Aug. 09, 2014

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